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I.E.M. - I.E.M. CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.87 | 53 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars An incredibly interesting experimental outing from Steven Wilson.

After months of waiting, the long out of print I.E.M discography finally became available to fans in a limited edition boxset, composed of the original 3 album releases and the EP. Simply buying this on a whim (and a strong Steven Wilson fanboyism) I had no real idea what to expect, and this is the disc which I consider to be the strongest of the bunch.

I.E.M is essentially another Steven Wilson experimental project. I.E.M. is an abbreviation for 'Incredible Expanding Mindfuck', and on repeated listen, this name seems to become somewhat more sensible. I.E.M. is heavily influenced by the Krautrock scene of the 70's, by artists including, but not restricted to, Neu!, Faust and Amon Duul II. The psychedelic influence is also incredibly prominent here. It is fair to say that Porcupine Tree fans may not enjoy this project as much as they would other SW projects, such as no-man and Blackfield, as this is really nothing like Porcupine Tree whatsoever, which is a credit to SW as a writer and a mutli-talented musician - you don't walk into one SW project expecting it to sound the same as the last, and this is especially true with the curiosity in Steven Wilson's musical history called I.E.M.

I.E.M. opens up with 'The Gospel According To I.E.M.', a delicious extended jam track composed of a thumping bass, rockin' drum beat and an improvised guitar solo section. There is also background noise, whistles, synth noise, scratches and other such oddities adding to the depth of the track. The track slowly descends into a mist of flute, haunting vocals and deadening silence, and shortly after, the drum track and guitar jam from before return in greater force. Eventually, the guitar picks up additional distortion and becomes an all-out electronic mess, yet remains incredibly controlled and balanced within the context. The last two droning minutes of this track drift into the follow up...

...'The Last Will and Testament of Emma Peal', which is a droning, foreboding synth based journey. The use of stereophonics in this track are wonderful and really help to create a mental journey. The drums are panned to the right ear and far in the background of the overall noise, as if they were being played by someone in your attic in the opposite end of the house - quite spooky in parts and incredibly interesting none the less.

Fie Kesh is track seeping with tribal drums and guitar with a nearly middle-eastern overall sound. The guitar solo is another welcome addition, and at times, it's difficult to believe that this is a one man band, and no less, the one man who wrote other brilliant tracks and albums within entirely different fields. The thumping bass rhythm is intrinsic to I.E.M., as a listener will begin to notice on further listens, and plays wonderfully throughout this jam, sporadically disappearing and returning.

Deafman is an incredibly uplifting and different track from the rest of the album, and stands out as the most relatively poppy. The wonderful rhythm guitar, bass and drum combo nearly make it sound like an early Porcupine Tree demo and the lead guitar solo which later joins is a wonderful closer to both a brilliant track and an album.

This album is easily worthy of 4 stars, although I feel doesn't quite reach up into 5 star territory - there is absolutely nothing wrong with this album, and it is indeed fantastic, although I don't quite feel like it pushes into masterpiece territory. None the less, a brilliant album in it's own right which stands out as the strongest within the I.E.M. discography. Highly recommended to all listeners who are looking for great experimental music which doesn't fear paying homage to its influences, but never becomes a tribute. Fantastic.

progkidjoel | 4/5 |


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